Asking a slew of people what they do with their bags
yielded lots of gripes about the avalanche of plastic -- and plenty
of advice on what to do with those free sacks.
"Once you tote home your plastic bag of take-out sushi
and Smart Water, you can reuse that bag in any number of ways,"
says Rebecca Sheir, a graduate student in Iowa City.
Gym bag. Plastic is
great for toting a wet swimsuit home from the pool. It's also fabulous
"as a post-workout repository for your sweaty T-shirt and sports
bra," says Sheir.
Trash liner. Free bags
are often the perfect size for the little trash can beside your
desk. The same is true for the bathroom's wastebasket, and some
die-hards even use larger-sized freebies for the kitchen's bigger
"I grew up in a use-the-bag-for-garbage household,"
says Courtenay Bouvier, also of Iowa City. These days, her parents
buy garbage bags at the supermarket -- and tote them home in a bag.
Lunch box. A plastic
bag works "as a carrying case for your brown bag lunch at the office,"
says Sheir. No need to pay for a pack of brown bags at the supermarket,
Cat litter. They're
handy for emptying out the cat's litter box, cat owners say.
Dog picker-upper. "My
best friend has filled many a Sunday New York Times tubular-type
bag with her dog's ... leavings," says Bouvier.
supermarkets and health-food stores offer a discount if you bring
your own bags. At New Pioneer Co-op in Iowa City, you get a "green
stamp" discount of five cents per bag.
Cheap souvenir. "Glancing
through my current stash, I see plastic bags from 'Knuth's Shoes,'
'Wild Oats Market' and other retail establishments in my hometown
of Cleveland, Ohio," says a nostalgic Sheir. "Mind you, of course,
that I haven't actually lived in Cleveland, Ohio, since the summer
of 1995 ..."
Those who travel abroad say bags from different countries
make them feel like the trip never ended.
those who are still overwhelmed with bags, the last hope is using
them to bundle donations -- and nab a tax deduction in the process.